With a background in computer science and mathematics and an enthusiasm for problem-solving, Michael Agresta has always been passionate about using data to help solve peoples’ problems. After being hired on at Merck Pharmaceutical as a data scientist, Michael quickly realized his function would be more attuned to the likes of a data strategist. With very few tools or personnel in place to handle the data that was coming in, it was clear to Michael that the key piece missing was a strategy.
He explained that the data was never the problem, because there was an abundance of it at Merck. The issue was that they had never implemented any plan for how the data was to be used and who was to manage that data. It was clear that if he wanted to make a difference in how Merck handled data within the real estate function, he needed to better understand how the function worked.
Coming into the facilities and real estate world with no background in the industry was illuminating for Michael. As the Associate Director of Analytics and Technology serving in the real estate and facilities department, the role not only requires an analytical understanding of the data being collected but also a certain level of emotional intelligence. As a data strategist for the facilities and corporate real estate group at Merck, Michael must convey the importance of data and technology to his colleagues in the real estate function.
“It’s all about forming relationships and partnerships. Both functions need to understand the role of the other; there could easily be friction, but if both groups have an understanding of the other’s role, they can support each other’s initiatives for the greater good of the organization.”
To better understand the landscape of the industry, Michael worked with his colleagues to map the value of the different streams of data within their organization. It was clear that they needed a data management solution. After researching multiple software solutions, Michael was simultaneously conducting a search to find a benchmarking tool to support their efforts and ultimately landed on BenchCore. This is where the real work began for the team at Merck.
Before using BenchCore, the Merck team did not have a standard procedure for how they managed data, which made our standard data collection method a much longer process than Michael had anticipated. We asked Michael one thing he would tell himself that he knows now: “It’s not going to be as easy as I think, purely because our data is not in order.”
Michael explained that this lift was unprecedented. Before BenchCore, Merck had only ever looked at their data in silos. So, the process of collecting data from different sources that he did not have easy access to and being able to tie it all together was not easy.
Collecting the data for the BenchCore input template was a big, yet crucial lift. The work paid off however, because it laid the groundwork for Merck’s data lake. Immediately they were able to identify huge cost savings, which he added, is one of the reasons his data lake project was approved. “I have BenchCore to thank for enabling the data lake, and I am grateful for that.”
As Michael and his team at Merck continue to embark on a journey to being a fully data-driven organization, he believes that assessing the benchmarks has been and will continue to be an integral part of their journey. BenchCore has helped enable their organization to build a strong data foundation, allowing them to set actionable and attainable goals based on the industry standards of their best- in-class peers. Michael says, “BenchCore is forcing us to look in the mirror and see how we can improve; you can’t argue with numbers.”
Being able to execute on data strategy for Merck means making more informed decisions, improving service delivery, optimizing their footprint, and becoming an all-around more efficient company so that the savings they generate can be re- invested into the medicines and vaccines that they supply to the people that they serve.